back to article Danish techies claim they can predict your next move (and your last)

Just as language models can predict what phrase might come next in a sentence, Danish researchers claim to have shown human life events can be predicted using similar statistical techniques. Early mortality and personality nuances were among the target predictions of the team based at the Technical University of Denmark who …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Paging Hari Seldon

    Hari Seldon to the white courtesy phone please!

    (That shaking feeling? Isaac Asimov rotating, slightly off balance, in his grave)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Paging Hari Seldon

      Damn you, you equal oldie (see Halley's comet) - you beat me to it.

      Though Hari already knew that ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paging Hari Seldon

        This could be a 'foundation' for something big .... if only I could get the feeling I have seen this before out of my head !!!


  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "education, health, income, occupation, and other life-event data"

    It's that "other" stuff that stretches credulity.

    I can think of a number of life-events that have influenced the course of my own life for decades ahead, all unpredictable events occasioned by other people and even the weather. I'm sure that this is a universal rather than a unique situation. Whatever data they have on any individual they will be as unable to predict future external events in their subjects' lives and the consequences of those.

    1. Henry Hallan

      Given that the whole shape of my life was altered by the old schoolfriend of one of my lodgers visiting and deciding that she should be married to me, it's hard to imagine what predictor would suggest that.

      Maybe it could have predicted her choices - I don't know - but I can't imagine how it would have predicted the effect on me

      (Get my coat because, well, I pulled. :-) )

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        To be fair, it would have been handy to have been told 'Today is not a good day to go paragliding' twenty years ago...

    2. carolinahomes

      "The weather will change your life, twice."

      -a sign

  3. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge


    The birth of which occurred on an obscure planet called Earth

    Encyclopedia Galactica 33532 ED

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Psychohistory

      Mostly harmless ...

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    These kind of studies aim for bringing Eugenics by the backdoor.

    If someone can be deemed worthless at birth, the nurses will be able to dispose of that excess carbon, for the good of the planet, so the parents don't have to waste energy on bringing up the so called "useless eater".

    On the less extreme side of the spectrum, imagine being denied a loan because the model thinks you will miss the last 4 instalments.

    1. cookieMonster Silver badge

      Re: Eugenics

      To be honest, the world could do with a few less “useless eaters”, have you seen social media lately !

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Eugenics

      "... imagine being denied a loan because the model thinks you will miss the last 4 instalments."

      That person gets a loan right away. The servicer recoups almost all their money, *and* they get to foreclose on the property. It's the one predicted to miss the first 4 installments who gets rejected.

  5. xyz Silver badge

    I could do with this...

    My life appears to be some uncontrolled (by me) mess where I bounce from success to disaster with large chunks of boredom inbetween and if some statistical model can predict what chaos will befall me next Tuesday or when I'm likely to peg out, it would take some of the stress out of the whole horror show!

    Where do I sign? It couldn't make a bigger hash of things than I do. Mind you, there was that time I tried to randomise my romantic life by going on and that ended in a crash and burn.

  6. b0llchit Silver badge


    Westworld (the series) predicted it already. Humans are deceptively simple and really don't have a clue what they are doing either. The faster we establish a computerised version of us humans, the faster we can be assured of <fill in blank>.

    We'll die any and either way...

  7. HuBo

    Lyngby's herringbone chokerooni!

    Well, those cunning Danes best not try to foil that technological fish soup sorcery, and related smørrebrøds, unto the French public before the Paris 2024 Olympics! Last thing we need is the French Fortune Teller's Union, the CGT, the CFDT, and the FO, all up in arms, staging massive month-long protests, way up and down the Champs-Élysées, and farther onto all roundabouts of the country, Gilet-Jaune-style! Keep that gooey vector crystal ball of chaotic social upheaval under wraps, pulease!

    1. Zack Mollusc

      Re: Lyngby's herringbone chokerooni!

      I heard that they are calling for rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertaincy.

  8. Whiskers

    Personal or population level?

    At the level of population statistics, this sounds like an extension of what pension providers, insurers, and so on, have been doing (or trying to do) for centuries. If anyone tries to apply it at the personal level though, great care will be needed to protect us from Big Brother, and possible attempts to pre-empt predictions.

    1. HuBo
      Big Brother

      Re: Personal or population level?

      Key question indeed! Why does Denmark keep such tabs on each and every one of its citizens? (a bit freaky)

  9. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    This a great time to really know the dangers of what one is claiming to be easily done .

    Danish techies claim they can predict your next move (and your last)

    Oh? Really? Got on then. Knock yourselves out. Here’s hoping you have good insurance cover. :-)

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: ...they can predict your next move (and your last) ....real proper spooky stuff

      In the spirit of moving things rapidly on, and into fields of strange and surreal vested interest which one is hereby advised it is both grave and extremely foolish to deny is rampant and best ignored, rather than recognised as self evident and accepted as inescapable and thus ideally much better to be remotely engaged and further jointly developed for future quantum entanglement, here be an alien guinea pig to try experimental Danish tech and revolutionary predictive processes upon ......

      Is the next best move likely to be just another small sideways step for a man or a giant quantum leap forward for new kind of humanity and virtual being ...... and what would either of those entail y’all being further told? That’s surely the least and all that we want and need to know be seeding and feeding the future.

  10. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Horror scopes

    > establish comprehensive models of human lives in a single representation"

    Like dividing up the entire human race according to their birth sign

  11. Filippo Silver badge

    If this can be refined to work well enough to get spooky, philosophers will have a field day.

    1. Bebu Silver badge

      Clearly didn't run Life2vec past marketing...

      《If this can be refined to work well enough to get spooky, philosophers will have a field day》

      Even a north american marketing "creative" with a terminally drug impaired brain could have come up with "Kismet." (Saw the movie I imagine.)

      When you think about it there are plenty of chaps in the soprano dead horse head line of work that routinely predict a person's last move with complete accuracy.

      Still if this model were to be ~100% accurate then well an truly a cornucopia of determinism, fatalism, eternalism, free will etc etc for the thelogians and philosophers.

      My guess is the rank of model's vectors will grow to approximate a Hilbert space and will just be another quantum system with an equally dodgy Copenhagen interpretation. (Taking the piss [I hope].)

      If not Kismet then perhaps QueSera or Doris.

  12. Doctor Evil

    Bang on!

    OMG they're absolutely right! They predicted I was going to laugh uproariously and move on without giving this any further serious consideration! I'll be damned ...

  13. IGotOut Silver badge

    Well at 52...

    ...I'm longboarding, playing volleyball and rediscovering the adrenaline rush of the mosh pit and all night raves.

    I think I have a good clue how I'm going to die, but it will be with a big fat cheesy grin on my face.

    Icon because I'm that generation.

  14. dvhamme

    Nothing to see here for now, carry on

    This is just the fancy version of correlation, without having to bother as much with having to actually select the variables or compute good features to correlate mortality with.

    Your insurance company has been using a simplistic version of this forever to determine your premium.

    Many commenters remark that their course of life is dominated by seemingly random events, but those random events are rare on the time scales presented here (4 years for the mortality prediction for example), and in terms of data space they represent a discontinuous change from one part of the space to a different part.

    The scary part is that you could extend this to predict whether divorcing or marrying or quitting your job would be more likely to improve or worsen your survival rate... I remember a not very good movie about this with Ben Stiller (Along came Polly).

  15. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Predictable outcome

    In Sicily they can give you the names of those who are going to die as well.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So.... These jerks can predict

    what I'm going to do tomorrow?

    Will it be one or more of:-

    - Going food shopping

    - Doing the ironing

    - Making some Foccacia bread

    - Kicking the cat

    - Staying in bed all day

    - Wrapping presents


    - None of the above?

    If I don't know what I'm going to do myself until I get out of bed and look at the weather then I guess that Elon must have implanted me with one of those things of his which is sending data to the jerks?

    Bovine Excrement when applied to us Grumpy Old Men who pride ourselves in doing the unexpected almost every day.

  17. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    I could see something like this working at a general level, where it can make a reasonable guess about most people, most of the time. And most people are less random than you might think (though I know one of two of whom it would not surprise me to find out that they were doing pretty much any possible thing at any given time. Interesting and fun to know, bloody difficult to contact when you want them) so even a reasonable guess for a given individual might be possible with enough information.

    It still doesn't allow for sudden death by meteor strike, though, so it's never going to be totally accurate. I could see it being used by the likes of life insurance companies, and marketing droids who are soon to be cut off without a cookie to their name.

    But here's a thought. People pay plenty of good money to astrologers and associated "seers" for a clue about the future, and never really complain when the predicted outcome doesn't transpire. Something like this, that could achieve even a fair guess, would be absolute gold in that market. And the astrology brigade didn't even see it coming... :)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like